Mumbai stall Arrows’ brilliance with a late revival

Mumbai City FC edged past a talented Indian Arrows squad to register a 2-1 win after extra-time in the third qualifier of the Hero Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Rahul KP gifted Arrows the lead before Achille Emana’s penalty coupled with Everton Santos’ super-strike took Mumbai to the pre-quarter finals.

The match began with Mumbai on the front foot as expected. Leo Costa and Balwant Singh had early opportunities, while Everton came the nearest to scoring when his powerful shot from distance rebounded off the far post. Minutes later, Lucian Goian’s header was on target but Sanjeev Stalin displayed impeccable reflexes to deflect it away from the goal line.

In the 12th minute, Stalin initiated the first of Arrows’ proper chances when his wonderful free-kick was kept out by Mumbai custodian Amrinder Singh’s daring save. Thereafter, the attacking momentum shifted back to Mumbai who kept most of the possession and dominated the midfield. However, no major action was in store in the first period as the teams entered the breather goalless.

Arrows entered the second period with renewed zeal and almost got the opener in the 57th minute from an expert counter attack. Rahul found himself in a one-on-one situation with Amrinder, but he surprisingly hit the ball straight at the keeper. He again came close five minutes later, when his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection off Amrinder but got denied by the crossbar.

Undeterred, the Arrows kept thronging Mumbai’s box with well-strung passes and eventually got rewarded in the 77th minute, when Rahul scored an amazing opener. He brilliantly dinked the ball over Goian, raced past him and lodged the ball past Amrinder to take the lead. Rahul could have scored another minutes later, but his shot from a tight angle missed the far post by mere inches.

Mumbai tried to up their tempo in the dying minutes of the game. Three minutes from time, Arrows had a close shave when Everton’s shot was saved off the line by Jitendra Singh. However, on the 90th minute mark, they ended up giving away a penalty to Mumbai when Rai brought Everton down in the box and Emana made no mistake to convert it from the spot. That proved to be the last piece of action from regulation time as the match entered extra-time.

The first half of extra-time started on a cautious strain from both ends. In the 98th minute, Arrows custodian Prabhsukhan Singh made a brilliant save off Balwant Singh’s header by parrying it away from the goal line. However, he couldn’t repeat his heroics six minutes later, when Everton gave Mumbai the lead with a powerful shot from the edge of the box to enter the last 15 minutes with a one-goal advantage.

In the last period, Mumbai changed their tactics to ensure the Arrows kept the ball in their own half while they flooded the midfield with bodies. Arrows had a chance six minutes from time through Rahul again, but this time Amrinder positioned himself well to block his attempt. With that, Mumbai sealed their berth in the pre-quarter finals, while Arrows went home with their heads held high after a sublime display.

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